THE ABORTION BILL put forward by Clare Daly was defeated by a remarkable 101 votes to 27 last week, despite the blustering showboating of many TDs following the death of Savita Halappanavar.

We need legislation to allow Irish doctors to make confident decisions on the care of their patients; there’s no getting around that. Our public representatives are aware of that. The question, really, is not if legislation will be enacted, but when. Ireland’s politicians will dither, waffle on about the need for reflection, and hop from foot to foot wringing their hands, their delaying the inevitable conveniently acting as a sort of political appeasement to those who would oppose the legislation.

In short, they’ll sit on the fence up to the point where they can claim they only moved because they were pushed off.

And this is for medically-necessary abortion: termination in cases where pregnancy endangers the mother’s life, including by risk of suicide. Many of those who are advocating abortion legislation stress this. Medically-necessary. Extreme situations. Last resorts. Abortion-on-demand, we are told, is a different kettle of fish entirely.

Even the term is loaded, isn’t it? Abortion-on-demand. It suggests unreasonable women stamping their feet until they get their own way, abortion as another facet of a culture of insufferable entitlement. Its structure dissuades objection, but all the same it begs the question: what’s so terrible about abortion-on-demand?